A ketogenic diet or keto diet uses fats in place of carbohydrates for energy and hence makes a person lose weight. This fat and protein content in a keto diet is roughly 95% to 99%.
Only 1 % to 5% of the calories are obtained from carbohydrates. Yale researchers conducted a study on mice for checking the effects of the ketogenic diet and found that in a short period it produces many healthy effects on the body, but some negative effects were observed even after a week. The study is published in Nature Metabolism.
The results showed that if the ketogenic diet is followed for a limited period it produces health benefits in the body. It lowers the risk of diabetes and inflammation.
The Yale lead study revealed that while following the keto diet immune cells known as gamma delta T-cells play a great role in producing the positive and negative effects on the body. Gamma delta T-cells are protective cells for a tissue as they lower the risk of diabetes and inflammation.
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Vishwa Deep Dixit, a lead author of the Yale School of Medicine said that while following a keto diet the fat of the body starts burning. As the portion of carbohydrates is very low in the ketogenic diet so glucose level is reduced in the body. In this condition, the body starts to burn the fats instead of glucose as it is acting in the starvation state. The burning of fat produces ketone bodies as an alternative source for energy. When the ketone bodies are used by the body for energy, gamma delta T-cells expand in the whole body for protecting the tissue.
Waldermar Von Zedtwitz who is the Professor of Comparative Medicine and Immunobiology said that when mice put on a keto diet for a week, it reduces the blood sugar levels and inflammation.
He further added that in the keto diet the body is in the condition of “staving not starving”. Researchers found that during this condition fat is stored in the body along with fat burning. When the mice are fed with high fat and low carb diet then the consumption of fat increased as compared to the burning of fat, so it leads to diabetes and obesity. This is because the body loses the protective cells for tissue, gamma delta T-cells.
To validate the anecdotal claims related to keto diet health benefits, long term clinical trials on humans are still needed.
Dixit said that for prescribing the keto diet in the future, large clinical trials on humans are needed to conduct in controlled conditions. This would be done for understanding the mechanism of immunological and metabolic benefits or any negative effects on the persons who are pre-diabetic and overweight.
According to CDC, nearly 84 million people are prediabetic (one in every three). This increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, CVDs, and stroke. More than 90% of people are unaware of having this condition. This is a reason to peruse the study in the future.
Type 2 diabetes and obesity are diseases related to lifestyle. So, a diet is required that allows the body to be in a controlled condition. Researchers are now trying to understand the mechanism of the keto diet in the body. Also, they are trying to know why the keto diet produces a positive effect if it is only followed for a limited period.
A postdoctoral fellow in comparative medicine, Emily Goldberg who discovered the role of gamma delta T-cells in mice during the keto diet. He said the findings of the study highlight the relationship of the immune system and metabolism and their coordination in maintaining the healthy function of the tissue.
Dixit said that the subject of further studies is to determine the optimal period for following the keto diet that produces beneficial effects on the body. If it would be discovered that the keto diet in small doses is better, then it is good news for the people because no one wants to be on the diet for the whole life.